Something old, something new. Which Mac (for now)?

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holonology
holonology Member Posts: 79 Helper
edited June 2022 in Tech Talks

Hiya folks. TL;DR I have a question about whether an old or new Mac is my best bet for getting set up with NI tools.

Longer version: My current idea is to buy the Maschine Mikro Mk3 and the M32 keyboard and make heavy use of use the software bundles they come with. As I'm new to the ecosystem of NI, I was hoping others with hands-on experience of the software/hardware could help me understand my computer choices.

I have an old iMac that still works, but is starting to show its age and cannot be upgraded past OSX 10.15.3. Initially, I started looking at something like a 14" Macbook Pro as an upgrade to this. But while researching the Maschine Mikro/M32, I noticed the topic of compatibility with the latest Mac computers has come up a lot. From what I read, it sounds as though the latest M1 chips could be somewhat/very problematic or unstable.

Based on all that, I'm now wondering if the old iMac would actually be preferable/more stable for MM & M32 in the short term? Or, is the 14" Macbook Pro a better option, even though it will be running the software etc through Rosetta, and with all the teething troubles etc?

I'm in no rush to upgrade, and I'd be less likely to swap the computer if sticking with it gives me a more stable base to try the NI tools out on in the short term. I'd be really grateful for any insight into this. Thanks. 🙂

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  • Tony Jones
    Tony Jones Member Posts: 261 Pro
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    M1 will be more than fine for getting into the ecosystem

  • Jojo123
    Jojo123 Member Posts: 283 Advisor
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    I don't have NI hardware but Im a K13 UCE owner. Currently thats the top tier of the Komplete Bundle. I would recommend seeing what you're likely going to want in the software range. You need to be watchful for compatibility issues. Reaktor is not supported on Monterey or AS. Im on intel and I won't upgrade to Monterey until Reaktor is supported. I'd also recommend having a look on NI site and seeing what software runs on what Application.

  • holonology
    holonology Member Posts: 79 Helper
    edited June 2022
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    Hi Tony & Jojo - thanks for answering.

    Perhaps this is a question with no definitive answer. Tony has confidence that this will all work, and Jojo less so, which is absolutely in-line with the mixed reports I'd heard elsewhere. I have heard stories like Tony's where things do work OK - although as JoJo says, you're on your own in terms of support at this point. I definitley wouldn't upgrade my sotware if I had a recent-ish Mac model that was running smoothly.

    The hardware question is a tad trickier. I've come to a point where I would like to upgrade, but these sticking points are making me think more than twice about it. The comment below from NI essentially says that there will likely be issues - specifically with regards to the Macbook Pro models. It sounds like standard M1 chips are (maybe?) less problematic compared to the chips in the Macbook Pro. If anyone has any additional views I'd be really interested to hear.


  • Kubrak
    Kubrak Member Posts: 2,841 Expert
    edited June 2022
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    I am not on Mac, just Win.

    I guess Reaktor does not work on M1 as Jojo123 points out. I am not sure, but it probably means that also NI products based on Reaktor do not work..... So it is not just Reaktor....

    From what I have read here on forum, there is more problems with M1 Max/Pro/Ultra, than plain M1. Some users experience problems even on M1, some are happy. It might depend on what DAW and what plugins one uses....

    General rule for any OS, any platform is. If one wants to avoid problems, wait, wait, wait, until SW and HW you are to use is fully compatible.

    No-one knows when NI products will be compatible with Apple Silicon CPU. For example, in case of Reaktor it will be hard task to port it to AS.

    M1 is cute CPU, but if you can wait and stay on Intel or buy seconhand Intel Mac, you avoid possible problems. M1 might work for you, or not depending on many things.

  • holonology
    holonology Member Posts: 79 Helper
    edited June 2022
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    Thanks Kubrak - I was about to edit my post to say exactly that. And I appreciate your thought that you should always look for full compatibility with the specs of the machine. So that's the can of worms fully opened!

    As of today, I'm seeing these options:

    • Intel Mac (old/new or otherwise). Pro: Stable performance with NI for the near future. Con: Potentially a shorter shelf life of the machine, as Apple will want users on their M1 architecture ASAP.
    • M1 Mac (Mac Mini/iMac): Pro: Some users reporting that this specification will run NI & other software just fine in Rosetta. Con: Still not fully compatible, and could be limited in the long run.
    • M1 Pro Mac (Macbook Pro etc). Pro: Best for future proofing your machine. Con: Literally might not work at all with NI and other software.

    I just noticed that Apple is actually still selling it's Intel Mac Mini. In fact, it's positioned as the expensive option vs its own M1 Mac Mini's. It looks like can be maxxed out with some pretty tasy specs and it has loads of ports and the kind of hardware a producer needs.

    That said, the way the system requirements shows up in the Maschine Mikro specs, this reads like M1 is OK, which would suggest that an M1 standard chip could work. Some say that 16gb of RAM in the iMac is way faster that 16gb in an Intel machine would ever have been. That route looks good but still has a few unanswered questions about how viable it is in the long term.

  • Kubrak
    Kubrak Member Posts: 2,841 Expert
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    But those specs are just for Maschine Mikro HW. But what about SW?

    If you can wait few more months... I guess that there will be new release of Komplete Bundle (K14) in less than half year. And my second guess is that NI will do the best make this release fully Apple Silicon.... But those are just guesses....

    My only doubt is Reaktor on Apple Silicon. It is going to be hard task... I would be possitively surprised if it will be native AS in half year. My guess may be wrong and NI manages full AS transition (including Reaktor) during next six months....

  • Jojo123
    Jojo123 Member Posts: 283 Advisor
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    @holonology You're doing the right things thinking this through. Some of it can come down to how much risk you're willing to take. Personally myself when it comes to a music machine I can't be bothered with risks. As much as possible I want a stable machine. As Kubrak says, some people are happy and some are not on AS.

    Unless you get a really good deal or have money to burn, Id be very reticent laying down my dollars for intel at this point. AS seems to be the way things are going. Very fortunately for myself, I upgraded (through necessity) from my very old Mac to a 2019' iMac 8 core i9 40GB RAM and there's no hurry for me to upgrade at this point and can afford to wait til all the dust settles with this AS thing. If youv'e got a bit of time up your sleeve thats a good thing. Also you might want to do some research on the unified RAM. Im no techy but I've seen peoples' experiences where they're not getting the performance they thought they would. I WOULD NOT go for just 8 GB RAM in this day and age, AS or not. This I know - RAM IS important. I have zero swap going onto my internal drive when working. Some of NI stuff is pretty demanding (like Straylight and Pharlight) and if your RAM is insufficient it will write to disk and you don't necessarily want that with the way SSDs work.

    Hope this helps.

  • Kubrak
    Kubrak Member Posts: 2,841 Expert
    edited June 2022
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    Jojo123 is right. 8 GB is way low even for current, not speaking about comming times. Unless one does fairly simple projects and does not use no hungry RAM eaters like cinematic and symphonic Komplete libraries.

    16 GB seems to me current absolute minimum, 32 GB just fine for now and few more years, 64 GB even better.

    One could do with half of those numbers, if not interested in using huge sampled instruments (e.g. Stradivari Violin, Cremona Quartet, ...)

  • holonology
    holonology Member Posts: 79 Helper
    edited June 2022
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    Hi @Jojo123 - thanks - I thought I was overthinking it hah! I'm completely with you that an Intel Mac is likely not the best way to spend at this point.

    I've noticed some prominent Youtubers use NI stuff. A lot of these people have also said the Mac Mini is a viable option for M1. But I also notice a lot of them talking about now having the confidence to get the Macbook Pro, partly because of the RAM point from @Kubrak

    I'd never get an 8GB machine, and my original intention (before I heard about all the M1 stuff) was 32GB Macbook Pro for a bit of future proofing. And to be honest, that's still the ideal solution, whether that be in the MBP or another Mac. I also hear there's an update to the Mac Mini coming (possibly even in the announcement from Apple tomorrow.)

    Meantime, I am minded to just hold off on the purchase of both the Mac and the NI stuff for at least a few months - even though I'm chomping at the bit to get into the NI fun. I got my old (now unsupported) iMac out of the box yesterday and although the specs are a bit low by modern standards of SSD's and Unified RAM, they're not terrible either (16GB RAM, i7 processor, 1TB storage - Fusion Drive). I may hang back for a few more months, and then if there's little to no movement, I might start using that with the MM and M32, even if it's slow. At least I can use it to try the software and play around before moving up to something more modrn. Hopefully by then, we'll know more about which machines play nice with the NI hw/sw.

  • Jojo123
    Jojo123 Member Posts: 283 Advisor
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    Hi there again,

    You're not overthinking things at all. Its a smart person who does plenty of pre-purchase research. Here's a couple of other ideas as an interim thing. Since you're just about to enter the NI eco system, and keen to try things, Im sure theres still a basic free package somewhere on NIs site that anyone can download, or at least there was when I started last year this time. I think you still have to register and use Native Access to download it. Also there's a heap of great videos on youtube on NI stuff but you can get overwhelmed with it all. Probably good to pick NI videos or ones that showcase best what you're interested in.

    Im sure you can squeeze a bit more life out of that iMac. Indeed the specs are not that bad as long as you dont run anything too heavy on that fusion drive. If you can hook up an external drive it might be better as well, but it should be more than enough to buy you some time.

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